Mr. Richard Kreutziger
Executive Director
NYSBDA
1111 Lac De Ville Boulevard
Apartment No. 309
Rochester, NY 14618

Dear Mr. Kreutziger:

This responds to your letter of January 3, 1995, telefaxed to Walter Myers of my staff in which you asked whether the bottom edge of a flip-up school bus seat, when in the vertical position, could extend past the rearward edge of a side emergency exit door a maximum of 3/4 inch. The short answer to your question is no.

You enclosed with your letter a copy of Figure 5B of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 217, Bus emergency exits and window retention and release, which shows the permitted positions of the seats forward and rearward of a school bus side emergency exit door. You drew in a depiction of the flip-up seat bottom showing the seat bottom extending into the access aisle a maximum of 3/4 inch. You stated that even with such intrusion, 11.75 inches of clear aisle space remains without obstruction of the door release mechanism.

Paragraph S5.4.2.1(a)(2)(i) of FMVSS No. 217 provides that no seat or restraining barrier shall be installed within the area bounded by a vertical transverse plane tangent to the rearward edge of the door opening frame and a vertical transverse plane parallel to that plane at a distance of 30 centimeters forward of that plane. Paragraph S5.4.2.1(a)(2)(ii) then provides:

A seat bottom may be located within the area described in paragraph (a)(2)(i) of this section if the seat bottom pivots and automatically assumes and retains a vertical position when not in use, so that no portion of the seat bottom is within the area described in paragraph (i) when the seat bottom is vertical. (See Figure 5B). (Emphasis added).

This requirement for a specific minimum aisle space leading to side emergency exit doors on school buses was contained in the final rule issued by this agency on November 2, 1992 (57 FR 49413) to permit bus occupants unobstructed access to the emergency exit door. The language is very clear. No variation from that requirement is permitted.

I hope this information is helpful to you. Should you have any further questions or need additional information, please feel free to contact Mr. Myers at this address or at (202) 366-2992.

Sincerely,

Philip R. Recht Chief Counsel

ref:217 d:2/13/95